Father Fitzgerald Responds to Interview Reactions

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Headshot for Father Fitzerald onlineRev. Paul J. Fitzgerald is the President of the University of San Francisco.

To the Editor:

I write to clarify any confusion or concern my brief remarks about sexual assault in the March 12 Foghorn interview may have caused members of the campus community.  My full commitment to the safety and well-being of all students and employees, women and men, especially in matters of sexual violence and sexual harassment, may not have been communicated effectively, and for that I am sorry.

For the record, I believe that sexual violence is a heinous crime and a grievous sin. Much worse than other crimes, it is an affront to the innate dignity of victims who are women created in the image and likeness of God.

Many university faculty and staff have done much good and important work here over the years. This includes the faculty in the Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS) program, Peter Novak and the professionals in Student Life who created the Think About It program, Public Safety officers and many others.  We are also blessed with women in leadership positions throughout the university who have helped us to craft a culture that lifts up the status of women in a spirit of inclusive excellence.

While we at USF have been working for years to create a better environment of respect and safety, we still have much to do and must redouble our efforts.  This includes educating all our students and employees and enlisting them in the prevention of incidents of sexual violence. In addition, while there has been good progress in our response to crimes on and off campus, here too there is much work still to be done. Our goal is zero incidents of sexual violence toward women at USF.

As much good as we can do here at USF, it is a tragic fact that women who are not our students also suffer greatly from the collapse of safe space in conflict zones, from human trafficking and from other forms of sexual violence. So, as a university, we also have an obligation to engage in learned advocacy for the improvement of the status of women everywhere it is threatened.

Be assured of my continued strong advocacy and full commitment in support of this essential work.  I stand with colleagues and students who are likewise dedicated to this common mission.

Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald

1 COMMENT

  1. “Our goal is zero incidents of sexual violence toward women at USF.” This isn’t a satisfactory response. Biological women are not the only people who survive sexual assault. I hope other alumni see these articles and collectively call for a much more thorough response from USF’s leadership about exactly which kinds of people they endorse including in sexual assault policies.

    • USF student associations need to come together and have Fitzgerald removed from the Presidency. His presence will surely weaken the stature of any degree issued by the university while he is in office and if he had any integrity, he would resign after making his views on harassment public in “Foghorn”. The Trustees failed by appointing him. Has anyone ever seen a syllabus P. Fitzgerald is responsible for? Does anyone know exactly what his actions were when he was in Africa and how many people he desecrated? He was involved in a women’s rights controversy at Fordham yet that did not seem to hinder his USF appointment. Curiously, Santa Clara did not want him back after his Fordham experience. A very curious situation.

  2. This is not a proper response to the people’s reaction to your horrible statements. Try harder. This is extremely embarrassing.

  3. In all seriousness Justin, unfortunately the “response” you are commenting on probably was not written by Paul Fitzgerald. It was probably written by Peter Novak. If you compare the language in the original interview with the grammar and syntax of the
    “response”, hard to see it being the same person. What do others think?

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